Just months after being publicly hired as Commissioner of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, Ronald Rubin was publicly fired Thursday by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who was Rubin’s biggest supporter when he was hired as the state’s chief financial regulator, led the call for Rubin’s firing on Thursday and accepted full responsibility for selecting Rubin as chief financial regulator.
“Mr. Rubin’s actions as laid out in the inspector general’s report are pretty indefensible,” Patronis said. “The claims that he acted to repeatedly push and then cross the limits of professional behavior, and in some cases human decency, makes him unfit for public office in the state of Florida.”
Rubin did not attend the Cabinet Meeting. His attorney Michael Tein read a statement on behalf of Rubin.
Rubin’s attorney sent the Governor and Cabinet a letter this week claiming the allegations don’t justify his suspension, let alone his firing.
Tein suggested to the Cabinet that Rubin should be censured and not fired. The governor and the Cabinet didn’t agree.
“We gave them the opportunity to stand down. We offered an olive branch,” said Tein.
Rubin oversaw more than 300 employees who regulated the state’s banks, check-cashing stores and payday loan shops. He made $166,000 a year, but his departure on Thursday will end his career with the state long before he reaches his 1st anniversary.
He was suspended by the state after a woman employee came forward and filed a sexual harassment complaint against Rubin after his hiring, a complaint Rubin denied. According to the complaint, the employee’s charges had to do with a lunch meeting in which Rubin made sexually related comments and invited her to see his condo.
Rubin fired back and accused Patronis of trying to force him out because of allegations of political favoritism against Patronis. The claims of cronyism from Rubin and others has resulted in a lawsuit, as well as an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Patronis insists he has done nothing wrong.
Since the sexual harassment claims first surface against Rubin, the OFR Inspector General’s office released findings it says prove that Rubin violated policies against harassment and misconduct.
The matter of the sexual harassment allegations might not be over. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried withheld her vote Thursday saying the claims are serious enough they deserve to be thoroughly investigated.
“I have refrained from saying much about this entire situation publicly, because I felt we as the Florida Cabinet needed to have all the available information,” Fried said, “After watching the back and forth, the competing reports, and the flying allegations, here is what I know: public officials need to be held to the highest moral, ethical, and legal standards, and all allegations regarding those in which the public trust has been placed need to be investigated by independent and neutral parties, so that the truth may come to light. Of what I am most sure is that this situation not only doesn’t serve the people of our state, it is a stain on the people’s Cabinet.”
A nationwide search to fill the regulator post is expected to begin Monday. DeSantis said there was “clearly poor conduct” by Rubin.